DES MOINES — After more than a year of industry collaboration, the National Pork Board recently shared plans for a new common industry audit platform for pork producers, packers and processors. The program will use the existing Pork Quality Assurance Plus (PQA Plus) program as its foundation and expand on it to serve as a common audit platform for the pork industry.
The overarching goal of the common audit process is to provide consumers greater assurance of the care taken by farmers and pork processors to improve animal care and food safety. The concept of a common audit was first introduced more than a year ago at the 2013 National Pork Industry Forum.
The decision emerging from that conference directed the National Pork Board to bring together a coalition of packers and pork producers to explore a credible and affordable solution for assuring animal well-being.
“As an industry, we know that our consumers are demanding a higher level of integrity from the pork industry’s quality assurance processes and procedures,” said Chris Novak, chief executive officer of the National Pork Board.
In 2011, the Pork Checkoff’s board of directors met with European counterparts, who complained about audit programs in their countries that were duplicative, costly and inefficient.
Using that experience, the common platform seeks to create and standardize a common process that will meet individual company and customer needs, focus on outcome-based criteria that measure animal welfare, provide clarity to producers with regard to audit standards and expectations, minimize duplication and prevent over-sampling; and ensure greater integrity of the audit process through consistent application.
The new common audit framework has several key components, including a new audit tool, requirements for auditor training and biosecurity and a platform that will allow audit results to be shared to prevent duplicative audits.
The audit tool is currently being beta-tested on farms across the country. The Industry Audit Task Force will review the results of this test in early July before finalizing the audit.
“This is not a new Pork Checkoff program, but rather an initiative that will be led by producers and packers working together to enhance animal care,” Novak said. “We’re grateful to the packers who have been members of this task force for their leadership with this effort.”
The Industry Audit Task Force includes producers and veterinarians representing the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, as well as packer representatives from Cargill, Farmland/Smithfield, Hatfield, Hormel, JBS, Seaboard, Triumph and Tyson.
Through a legislative national Pork Checkoff, pork producers invest $0.40 for each $100 value of hogs sold. Importers of pork products contribute a like amount, based on a formula.
The Pork Checkoff funds national and state programs in advertising, consumer information, retail and food service marketing, export market promotion, production improvement, technology, swine health, pork safety and environmental management.
For information on Checkoff-funded programs, pork producers can call the Pork Checkoff Service Center at 800-456-7675 or visit www.pork.org.